Tuesday, August 30, 2016

2016 Bookish Resolutions Challenge Update ~ August

BookishResolution Challenge 2016

Laura @Trips Down Imagination Road and Michelle @Because Reading are once again hosting the Bookish Resolutions Challenge in 2016. I participated in this challenge last year and it was a good way to keep me motivated in certain areas, so I decided to do it again this year.

My Goals for 2016
  • Blogging Goals
    • Keep up with commenting back weekly
    • Link up my challenge posts bi-weekly
    • Learn some HTML to change up format of posts
  • Reading Goals
    • Raise my Netgalley rating to 50%
    • Read books my kids *need* me to read
      • Alice in Wonderland
      • Death with Interruptions 
      • Everything is Illuminated
      • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
      • Listening for Luka
      • School of Good and Evil
      • The Things They Carried
      • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
      • Wonderstruck
  • Personal Goals
    • Stick to my daily schedule

Progress made in August

Blogging Goals
  • The kids are back in school and I can return to a 'normal' routine. That means I'll be around visiting y'all and commenting back. :D 
Reading Goals
  • My rating is still at 22% but I have a few reviews to post so it'll be higher next month!
  • I didn't get any of my Kids' Recs List read in August. Alice in Wonderland is up next though.
Personal Goals
  • I'm still struggling...gosh, I sound like a broken record!! I have started back to exercising. And I've been working at writing. I have two WIPs going right now and I've enjoyed being able to switch between them. I say this like I've spent so much time at it...I haven't. But I'm working at it. Also, after a chat with Lexxie, I think I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this year. I was inspired on our vacation to the Southeast and want to get to work on that. ;) Band season is upon us so between competitions with my two younger kids and visiting/getting visits from my older kid, it's gonna be a busy fall!

Monday, August 29, 2016

New Release Review ~ Mr. Corporate ~ JA Huss (@JAHuss)

Mr. Corporate (Mister, #3)Mr. Corporate by JA Huss
Mister #3
Release Date: August 17, 2016
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Source: Purchased on Kindle
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease, #COYER
Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N

Weston Conrad is the best headhunter in the business. That handsome smile goes a long way towards convincing most people to trust him with their future.
I'm not most people. I'm his direct competition. And it doesn't hurt to be just the kind of woman he's been looking for.
I'm gonna flash you these legs, Weston Conrad.
I'm gonna wear low-cut shirts and micro-mini skirts.
I'm gonna dazzle you with wit and conversation and kiss those lips like they're exactly what I've been waiting for.
So don't hate me when you figure out my secret.
You understand, right? You're Mr. Corporate and this is just business.

And the plot thickens!

It's a good thing the next Mister releases in less than 2 months. Mr. Corporate, while answering a few (very few) of my questions about who Weston Conrad is, left me with more questions than answers. And in this way, Huss continued weaving a twisty story around these five friends - one that will probably keep my mind turning over possibilities until the final reveal.

As for what I learned about West - well, this boy has some secrets. So many, I'm wondering why he wasn't named Mysterious. ;) Although I guess that's because none of the other Misters knew just how secretive West was being. Despite that, West is a decent guy. Truly. I think. He's made lemonade with the lemons life threw his way and he's built a good life. One he'd like to share with a certain someone. That certain someone who continually walks out on him and who he hasn't spoken to in several years because she stole a contract from him. Or did she? A contract split them up. And a contract is reuniting them. Victoria has been granted the opportunity to compete for a contract that could change her fortune. But she didn't count on it being so important to West.

Victoria was rather a hard nut to crack. Although I identified with her on a few levels - wanting to be independent rather than beholden to a man, wanting to make her own way - her hot/cold flip-flops with West kept me unsure where she really stood. And therefore, I was unsure whether or not to side with her. She did, eventually, win me over. And she did this by standing by her man.

The questions that arose from the deserted island, the safe room, guns, and explosions - those really have my mind spinning. Huss may have given us a single piece to fit into the puzzle but she threw a hundred more onto the table and I'm still trying to turn them over and spin them around in a fun if vain attempt at figuring out where they all might fit.

Mr. Corporate is a well paced and placed building block in the Misters' story. I await Mr. Mysterious with bated breath and hope that the puzzle will begin to come together. I'm eager to see the whole picture.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Review ~ The Strongest Steel ~ Scarlett Cole

The Strongest Steel (Second Circle Tattoos, #1)The Strongest Steel by Scarlett Cole
Second Circle Tattoos #1
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Source: Gift (kindle) from Lexxie <3
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #COYER, #ShelfLove

Harper Connelly never expected to find herself outside of a tattoo parlor at one in the morning, summoning the nerve to take back her past. She's determined to forget her old life and is looking for an artist who can tattoo over the scars on her back.

Trent Andrews, local legend and owner of the Second Circle tattoo studio, has his own reasons for specializing in inking over scars. And in spite of her mysterious past and the difficult road ahead, he quickly realizes that Harper is funny, smart, and--under her ridiculously oversized clothing and SPF 100 sunscreen--totally hot. He's happy to take on the challenge of designing a meaningful and deadly full-back tattoo for her.

But when cryptic messages start appearing on Harper's phone, strange deliveries arrive at her door, and Second Circle is vandalized, Harper is convinced that her ex-boyfriend has tracked her down, and worse, that he knows about Trent. Running was the only thing that saved her last time, but now that she's started to put down roots in Miami, she'll have to decide if she can finally fight back instead.

"I love words. I love the structure of language and I love awe-inspiring writing." -Harper, pg 150
A girl after my own heart, I couldn't help but adore Harper!

Thank you, Lexxie, for the gift of this amazing book!! I didn't re-read the synopsis or Lexxie's review before diving in, so I went in only expecting a great read. It was a great read but it was so much more than I could have hoped. Seriously, if you have read this yet, hop to it! *wink*

Harper, as I stated, was a girl after my own heart. I'm not sure I could be as strong as she's been in the face of all she's endured though. And she'd argue the point of her being strong but she so is. Watching as she emerges from her self-imposed cocoon was beautiful. She didn't - couldn't - trust many. But there was something about Trent that spoke to her soul. And her spirit truly seems to have been forged in steel. Seeing her realize she was worth fighting for and stand on her own - *sigh* - it was something to behold.

Trent is one of the most appealing heroes I've had the pleasure to read. He's muscle-bound, tattooed, and all-man but he's soft-hearted, compassionate, and knows his Dante. *wink* He saw something in Harper, something besides the need to protect her, and he worked at getting what he wanted. He grew emotionally as well and although he'd experienced nothing as harrowing as what Harper had, he learned to let go and move past things that were putting an obstacle between them.

I can't not mention my extreme appreciation for Ms. Cole's nod to great literature. That she uses Dante as such an integral part of the series (Second Circle) and in Harper and Trent's story thrilled me...so much symbolism. And it added that much more depth and pleasure to an already incredible story.

Character development, strong plot, and an element of suspense all melded together for an excellent read. I'm beyond eager to jump into the next installment!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Review ~ Werewolves of Chicago: Howard: The Underdog ~ Faleena Hopkins

Werewolves of Chicago: HowardWerewolves of Chicago: Howard by Faleena Hopkins
Werewolves of Chicago #2
Release Date: March 27, 2016
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease, #COYER

Curragh, Xavier and Draik made me prove myself. And I changed into something extraordinary.

The strength and speed.
The night vision.
Hearing through walls and even into heartbeats.

All this is new. Strange. FANTASTIC.

Because I'm about to meet HER. The blue-haired girl. Around her, I act totally out of character. I would never hurt her, but HE might. Not every wolf gets a cool name. Not until they've earned it.

A werewolf who's scrawny? Small in stature and has no supernatural abilities to speak of? A coroner? And named Howard?!? An underdog indeed but I find I tend to root for underdogs. ;)

Howard was exciting, funny, and suspenseful. The premise grabbed me and Howard, his pack mates, and Alisa drew me in. Hopkins' writing is inherently readable and the story was well constructed and nicely paced.

I loved Howard! He's such a gentle and sweet guy. He's recently undergone a dramatic physical change but it didn't change him. Alisa is quirky and fun. You gotta admire a girl with blue hair. She is definitely courageous and although she put up all kinds of emotional barriers, she melted for Howard. Both Howard and Alisa have similar upbringing which left them with emotional scars. I liked that there was something about them both that pulled at the other. They complemented each other well.

The secondary cast is fantastic. I read this out of order, which I hate doing, but although I would have felt I knew them all better, I didn't feel it took away from the story. I will, of course, be reading Curragh ASAP. And then Xavier. And Hopkins' other werewolf series as well. And probably her other works too because I have a feeling she's going on my favorite authors list. I'll keep y'all posted. ;)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Historical Romance Review ~ Wicked Intentions ~ Elizabeth Hoyt

Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane, #1)Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt
Maiden Lane #1
Release Date: August 1, 2010
Genre: Adult, Historical Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #COYER


A man controlled by his desires...

Infamous for his wild, sensual needs, Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire, is searching for a savage killer in St. Giles, London's most notorious slum. Widowed Temperance Dews knows St. Giles like the back of her hand - she's spent a lifetime caring for its inhabitants at the foundling home her family established. Now that home is at risk.

A woman haunted by her past...

Caire makes a simple offer - in return for Temperance's help navigating the perilous alleys of St. Giles, he will introduce her to London's high society so that she can find a benefactor for the home. But Temperance may not be the innocent she seems, and what begins as cold calculation soon falls prey to a passion that neither can control - one that may well destroy them both.

A bargain neither would refuse.

Oh, Wicked Intentions...how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

1) Hoyt delivers such appealing characters despite them being atypical. Lazarus is an anti-hero and Temperance is intelligent, witty, and strong.

2) Lazarus was fascinating to become acquainted with as Temperance peeled back all his layers. In the same way, Temperance was compelling as a heroine as Lazarus aided her in her self-discovery. In many ways, Wicked Intentions is a study in human nature.

3) The mystery kept me glued to my kindle trying to solve it alongside Lazarus and Temperance. I had my suspicions but in the end, I was wrong.

4) The secondary characters were interesting - from Temperance's siblings and Lazarus' mother all the way to Polly the wet nurse. I do hope we see much more from many of them.

5) Temperance's profession - I adored that she helps run a home for abandoned children along with her brother.

6) Hoyt's use of snippets from a fairytale as the start for each chapter. These snippets lead into the chapter and the story overall so well.

Wicked Intentions was a delight! Hoyt always entertains me and I'm eager to get started on the next in the Maiden Lane series.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

That's What HE Said #68 ~ Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #49

That's What He Said is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies @Chapter Break. Here's the deal: every Thursday, post a line from your book boyfriend to his heroine. Keep in mind, these are direct quotes from dialog in the books. The quote doesn't have to be romantic - just something our hunky hero said to his lucky lady. Be sure to link up over at Chapter Break as well.

My pick this week for That's What He Said is from:

Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt


"Because I am selfish and vain and venal--nothing, in fact, like you or the men in your family. Don't think I'm unaware of that fact. I don't deserve you, Temperance, but it doesn't matter. You have told me you love me, and I'll not let you change your mind, now or ever."


"But then there's quite a lot you don't know about me, Mrs. Dews."
"Is there?" Her gaze skipped over his shoulder, and he knew she looked at his mother in conversation with Lady Beckinhall in the corner. "Such as?"
"I have an unnatural fondness for marzipan sweetmeats."
He felt more than heard her giggle, and the small, innocent sound sent a frisson of warmth through him. She hid her emotions so well usually, even the joyous ones.
"I haven't had marzipan sweetmeats in ages," she murmured.
He had the sudden urge to buy her a boxful just to watch her eat them. Her read lips would become sprinkled with the sugar and she'd have to lick them clean. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Brandee's Bookish Babble #23 ~ Long Books...Or Why I Keep Failing Certain Challenges

Welcome to Brandee's Bookish Babble. There are many, many similar posts to this one - but basically I wanted a place to discuss bookish and/or blogging stuff and I needed a title. :) So this is my new discussion feature.

I've noticed a trend in my reading habits where challenges are concerned. Well, lately I've not read much at all really BUT I was doing well each month of 2016. Keeping on target and getting those challenge books read. But both last year and this year, I failed and continue to fail at my Reading Assignment Challenge and I think I've figured out why...

Outlander. Game of Thrones. <-- Yep, those two titles. And maybe a few others but those two in particular. They were on my Reading Assignment list last year and I put them on the list again this year because I'm determined to read them. But...they're soooo long! And I keep thinking "But I could read 2 or 3 shorter books in that same time." It's terrible! What I seem to end up doing is the reading shorter books on my list and then when I get to the point where I only have those looong books left, I fail. Why?

Why do I seem afraid to dive into long books? I used to read lengthy books all the time. Have I become a product of the digital age whereby I want instant gratification? Is my attention span that much shorter? Have I become commitment phobic whereby I don't want to invest that much time in one set of characters? Is it because they're in paperback format and I'd prefer to read a book of that length on an ereader?

Obviously, I don't have the answer yet. I wondered if y'all might have some advice. Are y'all averse to longer books? Do you find yourself putting off reading something that's 800+ pages? Why? Or why not? Help me, please. I'd really like to pass my Reading Assignment Challenge next year! :D

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Top Commenters Raffle #1 Winner

Hi y'all! I'm sorry I didn't get this posted last week. It's still a bit crazy around Casa de Bookworm Brandee. ;) Sky and I leave this Friday heading to Portland and I'll be back late next week. Bear with me as I finish out this month - leaving one at college and having the other two start back to school - I'm rather an emotional wreck. 

Now on to what y'all really want to know! So I (actually Sky did the honors for me) tallied  the commenters I had throughout June and July. There were 47! THANKS SO MUCH! I took those that had commented 4 or more times and entered those 18 into the raffle.

  1. northernplunder
  2. Lorna
  3. Melanie
  4. Braine
  5. Lover of Romance
  6. Tanya Atkinson
  7. Kristen Burns
  8. Lexxie
  9. Leona Woolfolk
  10. Christy LoveofBooks
  11. Lola
  12. TeresaMaryRose
  13. Naomi Hop
  14. Felicia the Geeky Blogger
  15. Fantasy is More Fun
  16. Anna @ Herding Cats and Burning Soup
  17. Trish Hannon
  18. Kimbacaffeinate

And the winner is....
Melanie!!! If you'll email or PM me either on Facebook or Twitter with your mailing address, I'll get your mystery box of books and bookmarks sent out to you!

Thanks so much to you ALL for continuing to support me over this summer. I appreciate it so very much! And keep dropping by as I'm doing another raffle at the end of August!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Review ~ The Things They Carried ~ Tim O'Brien

The Things They CarriedThe Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
Release Date: December 29, 1998
Genre: Adult, Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction
Source: Borrowed from Sky's shelf
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #BookishResolutions, #COYER, #ShelfLove

They carried malaria tablets, love letters, 28-pound mine detectors, dope, illustrated bibles, each other. And if they made it home alive, they carried unrelenting images of a nightmarish war that history is only beginning to absorb. Since its first publication, The Things They Carried has become an unparalleled Vietnam testament, a classic work of American literature, and a profound study of men at war that illuminates the capacity, and the limits, of the human heart and soul.

The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and the character Tim O'Brien, who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three.

"I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth." ... "What stories can do, I guess, is make things present." Tim, pg 171-172
The Things They Carried was powerfully told and emotionally engaging. It's a story of war but also of self-discovery. This book is technically a work of fiction, but it's rooted in truth and relevant -- extremely relevant. I was shocked, actually, to think of the similarities and parallels between the social and political climate of the 60's and that of today. But that quote above? That's the importance of this story being told. Also, 
"But this too is true: stories can save us." Tim, pg. 213
That's why this story needed to be told. In The Things They Carried stories were not only a way of keeping things - truths, ideas, each other - alive during the war but afterward they were a way of keeping the soldiers alive in death as well.
"Well, right now," she said, "I'm not dead. But when I am, it's like...I don't know, I guess it's like being inside a book that nobody's reading.""A book?" I said."And old one. It's up on a library shelf, so you're safe and everything, but the book hasn't been checked out for a long, long time. All you can do is wait. Just hope somebody'll pick it up and start reading."
I appreciated this analogy and it reiterated the importance of storytelling to keep the past - people, history, customs, and culture - alive. But I also think storytelling is cathartic for the storyteller. And Tim O'Brien is a master! This book is amazing in that it made me feel, made me think, made me consider... It's an experience I won't soon forget and isn't that the point?


My older daughter requested I read this because it made such an impression on her. Thanks for asking me to read this, Sky, and for listening to me and chatting with me as it left its mark on me as well.

Friday, August 12, 2016

New Release Review ~ The CEO Daddy Next Door ~ Karen Booth

The CEO Daddy Next DoorThe CEO Daddy Next Door by Karen Booth
Release Date: August 9, 2016
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease

He wants a mother for his child. She won't settle down. And they're living together...

After one disastrous date, reality TV personality Ashley George and devastatingly handsome British billionaire Marcus Chambers are roommates! When a fire destroys her apartment, Ashley leans on her Manhattan neighbor for help--and soon finds herself falling for the father and his baby. But despite their off-the-charts attraction, Marcus only dates women who would be suitable mothers for his daughter. His free-spirited neighbor is completely unsuitable. So why can't he seem to keep her out of his bed...and out of his heart?

The CEO Daddy Next Door is the perfect summer read - a sort of frenemies-to-lovers romance with playful banter, sparks flying strong enough to make me worry about shorting out my ereader, and genuine characters I couldn't help but love. This story is a delight!

Ashley and Marcus live across the hall from one another. They had one date that ended badly and have been each other's nemesis ever since. If only neither of them felt the strong spark of attraction. Things would be far less complicated. Marcus is living in NYC to launch an American division of his family's gin company. He suffered an excruciating divorce and is determined to choose more wisely the second time around in order to protect his infant daughter. Ashley has been burned badly before as well. A hit that the Matchmaker of Manhattan took hard - she finds true love for others but can't seem to do the same for herself.

When an opportunity arises that is professionally mutually beneficial to both Ashley and Marcus, they take off their gloves and play nice. This leads to more than either bargained for - even their becoming roommates.

Booth did an excellent job in creating real characters. I felt for both Ashley and Marcus, understood the motivations behind their actions, and was cheering for them. Ashley had Southern charm which I enjoyed and Marcus, well, he's British so you know I adored his stodgy yet charming self. Watching their walls crumble as they got closer was a treat.

While this is only a novella in length, the story is well-crafted and felt finished when I reached the end. There was a tiny plot thread left unraveled but that didn't take away from my enjoyment at all. Booth seems to have a knack for delivering a great story with appealing characters no matter the number of pages!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

New Release Review ~ Haunted by the King of Death ~ Felicity Heaton

Haunted by the King of Death (Eternal Mates, #11)Haunted by the King of Death by Felicity Heaton
Eternal Mates #11
Release Date: July 30, 2016
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
Source: I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease, #COYER
Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N

A ruthless vampire warrior, Gave Van der Garde rules the mercenary Preux Chevaliers with an iron fist, determined to retain his hard-won position as one of the most powerful men in Hell and his reputation as the heartless King of Death. But beneath the cold facade beats the heart of a vampire torn between love and hate, ripped in two directions by a single ethereally beautiful female--his fated phantom mate.

Driven by her phantom instincts, Isla used a spell to make her solid in order to deceive the vampire who killed her sister's demon mate and have revenge on him, condemning him with a single kiss to become a phantom too. But her plan took an unexpected turn when she fell in love with him, and with her new life, and the night she betrayed him shattered both of their hearts. Now, he lives to make her suffer through their connection, one that is fading with them as they begin to slop into the phantom world, and she must face the monster she created if she is to save herself and the vampire she still loves.

With a demon from Grave's past determined to destroy him and everything he holds dear, and the clock ticking down to their inevitable doom, can he and Isla overcome their past and their pride to work together to secure the future they both desire deep in their hearts? Or will death finally catch up with the vampire king and his phantom mate?

It is quite a feat to carry a series to 11 books and keep it entertaining and engaging. Heaton has certainly accomplished that feat. Not only was Haunted by the King of Death entertaining but she managed to keep me captivated with Grave and Isla's story...so captivated I didn't miss my favorite characters from previous installments. That is something I didn't think possible!

Grave has always intrigued me. He's a vampire for one thing. But he's also an enigma. I've been eager for his story for awhile...and what a story! I enjoyed getting better acquainted with him, learning his story and finding that he's not simply a cold-hearted mercenary. In Isla, I learned about phantoms in this world - their nature and particular makeup. I warmed immediately to her and understood her earlier actions as well as felt for she's suffered because of those actions.

Their story - finding their way back to one another via a threat to them both as well as their families - was... well, I was enraptured. There was so much going on and Heaton wove in her masterfully choreographed fight scenes around solving a problem and protecting family and each other. I found it all utterly exciting!

Eternal Mates is one of my favorite series as Heaton keeps me engaged and entertained. I can't wait for the next in this series and, thanks to some of the characters I met here, I'm thinking I need to immerse myself in her Vampirerotique series as well. :D

Monday, August 8, 2016

Audio Review ~ The Wall of Winnipeg and Me ~ Mariana Zapata

The Wall of Winnipeg and MeThe Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata
Narrated by: Callie Dalton
Release Date: May 10, 2016
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Tantor Audio in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms

Vanessa Mazur knows she's doing the right thing. She shouldn't feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans, and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary. But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she's beyond shocked. For two years, the man known as the Wall of Winnipeg couldn't find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He's asking for the unthinkable. What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

Oh my goodness! What a listen! Being a football fan and from Texas, listening to a story revolving around a defensive end playing for the Dallas 300's was a delight! Meeting a feisty young woman working for/crushing on said defensive end? Even better. This was my introduction to Zapata's writing and I'm hooked!

Vanessa is the plucky heroine. I adored that she took such care of Aiden but also didn't let him walk all over her. Most of the time. She's a survivor - made it through a horrible childhood and suffered at the hands of those who should have taken care of her. But she's made something of herself and working for Aiden has afforded her options.

Aiden - I admit that it took quite awhile for me to warm up to him. He's dedicated to his job, for sure. He severely lacked in social skills though. Seriously. Things changed for him when Vanessa quit. And when he got her back and the began getting to really know one another, he had me swooning. The banter between them was so much fun! Aiden is a deep guy which wasn't really apparent in the beginning. I enjoyed seeing Vanessa realize there was so much more to him than she'd ever dreamed.

The secondary cast was excellent - particularly Zach. The "Big Texan" added a lot of depth to the story as well as offering comedic relief often. I hope he gets his own story but since this one isn't listed as being part of a series, I may be out of luck.

There was much more going on than just the romance here. Tough topics, like abuse, were explored and I liked the complexity these topics added. Then emotional growth both Vanessa and Aiden experienced was amazing to witness - especially what they accomplished individually. That individual growth made their blossoming romance more solid. Opening up to one another about themselves served to aid in their personal healing as well as help them grow closer.

I could gush on and on. The story was engaging, well-paced, and a pleasure to listen to. Callie Dalton, the narrator, played a huge role in that. With the exception of Aiden's voice being a bit shaky in the beginning, she did well with keeping the story flowing and conveying the emotion of the characters. She nailed a Texas accent and helped me fall for Zach. *wink* I'd absolutely listen to her again and am keeping my fingers crossed for more from this cast of characters!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Review ~ Keeping Secrets in Seattle ~ Brooke Moss

Keeping Secrets in Seattle (Secrets, #1)Keeping Secrets in Seattle by Brooke Moss
Secrets #1
Release Date: February 18, 2013
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received an eARC from Entangled Publishing, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #BloggerShame, #COYER Summer 16, #ShelfLove

Seattle hairstylist Violet Murphy always knew the day would come when her best friend Gabe Parker would want to settle down. She'd secretly wished it would be with her, but now that he's chosen someone else--the prim, perfect Alicia--he wants Vi to be his best man.

Healing her broken heart isn't easy, but when Violet meets Landon Harlow, a man who isn't fazed by her funky style and less-than-delicate attitude, she takes a step in the right direction. Until Gabe's fiance's gorgeous facade begins to crack, and Violet's disturbing past comes back to haunt her, that is. Vi now finds herself armed with a series of lies that would break Gabe's heart--and his engagement--if he knew their truth, and a secret from their childhood that could change everything.

With the wedding looming, her relationships unraveling, and the bachelor party of the century to plan, Violet must choose between a fresh start with Landon, or confronting her painful past and risking it all for a chance at a future with Gabe.

You know those books you one-click OR request for review but for whatever reason let sit? For years? And then kick yourself once you finally get around to reading them because they're so good??? Yeah, Keeping Secrets in Seattle is one of those books!

I was immediately hooked - drawn into Violet's and Gabe's story. Moss did an excellent job of creating central characters with depth and keeping all the secrets secret until the reveals. Violet is such a quirky character and I liked that. I also liked that Moss used Vi's quirks - her wild hair, her tattoos, and her vintage clothing as camouflage - one way to keep her secrets. Vi was fun though, as well as hard-working and determined. I kinda felt Gave was similar to Vi in that he wore his suits and worked a high-power job - had even found himself a fiance to round out the picture. But it wasn't him. He wasn't being true to himself.

I also liked how Moss doled out information via snippets from Violet's journal entries. It felt genuine and also enable me to feel that much more connected with her.

The secondary characters were also fun to get to know - well, with an exception or two. *wink* Vi's roommates, Kim and Betsy, were a hoot and were always there to support her. And Landon - I really liked him and felt for him when things didn't work out the way he'd planned. I suppose these characters could have had more depth and that would have added more complexity to the story but the story, overall, was so good.

The ending was well done. I liked how Moss showed that Vi's perspective on things was a little skewed. I felt both she and Gabe did some growing - Vi more so. And it was necessary so that the way things shook out felt realistic and solid. The ending also wrapped things up well. This is the first in a series but no more books have been released. I'd venture to guess that if there are more in the future, the characters will be different than those in this installment. No matter - Moss has other stories for me and I plan to indulge.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

That's What HE Said #67 ~ Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #48

That's What He Said is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies @Chapter Break. Here's the deal: every Thursday, post a line from your book boyfriend to his heroine. Keep in mind, these are direct quotes from dialog in the books. The quote doesn't have to be romantic - just something our hunky hero said to his lucky lady. Be sure to link up over at Chapter Break as well.

My pick this week for That's What He Said is from:

Lady Luck by Kristen Ashley


"But we got a rocky road ahead of us and I don't know where it's gonna lead before we get to the other side. The only think I can give you is, that shit comes outta my mouth and cuts you, you gotta understand that shit was planted in me and I gotta get it out. I'll try to do it in a way that doesn't harm you but I obviously am not battin' a thousand with that so I can make no promises except I'll try. What you need to give me is to know it is not about you, it's about me. You gotta suck it up and stand by me. You gotta know, in the end, I'll work my ass off to make it all worth it to you, and you gotta always remember I love you and I have never, not once, said those words to any breathing soul so you also gotta know what that means."


Ty Walker, having just been released from 5 years in prison, understandably is hungry for real food. It must be said he wasn't ordering for himself and Lexie...only himself. *hehe*

"Coffee," Walker said over me. "Now." She nodded quickly. He kept speaking. "Bacon, crispy, double order. Sausage links, double order. Four pancakes. Four eggs, over medium. Four slices of bread. Hash browns, double order. After the coffee."

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

#ShelfLove Discussion ~ My Reading Rituals

Bookworm Brandee

As part of the #ShelfLove Challenge, we have monthly discussion topics. August's topic is My Reading Rituals.  

When I first considered this topic, I thought, "Well, I don't really have a reading ritual." But as I pondered a little more, I realized I do have reading rituals - they're just dependent on the time of day and the season. ;)

No matter the time of year, if I'm reading in the morning, I'm drinking a cup of coffee. If it's warm out in the morning, meaning July or August, I'll read outside on the deck and watch the sun come up. During cooler times of the year, I'm either on the love seat in front of a fire OR in my library chair.

If I'm reading at any other time of the day, I'm either drinking coffee (hot or iced), raspberry lemonade, or water. The location doesn't change with the exception of outdoor reading, which might be done in an Adirondack chair under the shade of pine and fir trees rather than on my deck.

What about y'all? Do you have specific reading rituals? Particular things you eat or drink while reading? Particular places you sit with your books??

Monday, August 1, 2016

Love & Other Disasters Contest ~ Jennifer Dawson

Alright, y'all, check out this fantastic contest and opportunity to share your own dating disaster as inspiration in a new series from Jennifer Dawson. This is such a unique idea and I'm so excited! Let's have some fun!

Message from Jennifer Dawson:

Hey there!

Thank you so much for having me on the blog today and helping me share the exciting news about my new hot, contemporary series, Love & Other Disasters.

Recently I wrote a novella called The Walk of Shame for the Feel the Heat Anthology, and the story sparked a whole new series idea!

So, here’s the scoop… Starting in January 2017, The Walk of Shame (Featuring Ashley and Christopher from my Undone series) will be rereleased as the first novella in a 12 book series, each inspired by a dating disaster that will lead to a happily ever after. But here’s the twist, while book 1 is done, I’d like you to help inspire the other stories by confessing your worst dating disasters.

Now, of course, I can only choose 11 stories to inspire the books, but I want everyone to participate and have fun with this so if you submit your dating disaster you will automatically entered to win a $100.00 gift card to your choice of Amazon or Paypal.

And if your story is selected, you’ll get the Love & Other Disasters inspiration package that includes:

 Acknowledgment in the front of the book.

 All 12 books in the Love & Other Disasters Series will be gifted to you.

 The option of having your original submission highlighted in the back of the novella your story inspired.

You’ll find all the details and contest rules in the submission form, but I hope you think this sounds as fun as I do. I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!!

Thanks for having me!

Contest Form:

Link to Google form:

About the Author:
Jennifer Dawson grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from DePaul University with a degree in psychology. She met her husband at the public library while they were studying. To this day, she still
maintains she was NOT checking him out. Now, over twenty years later, they’re married and living in a suburb right outside of Chicago with two awesome kids and a crazy dog. Despite going through a light
FM, poem-writing phase in high school, Jennifer never grew up wanting to be a writer (she had more
practical aspirations of being an international super spy). Then one day, suffering from boredom and disgruntled with a book she’d been reading, she decided to put pen to paper. The rest, as they say, is history.

Social Links for Jennifer Dawson: Website | Twitter | Facebook